How to lead a meeting confidently

January 18, 2022 · 5 min readMeeting Culture

One of the most useful and widely used tool tools in the internal communication toolbox is leading meetings. Love them or hate them, meetings are the cornerstone of remote collaboration and have long been the engine for executive objectives. However, all meetings are not created equally. Team meetings, as cumbersome as they can be, are the most important.

Of the many types of meetings being held at any company or organization, team meetings can foster creativity and increase productivity when they're done right. Team meetings offer a space for team members to come together and share their ideas. This can be especially helpful when project goals are unclear or when the team is working on something new. In these cases, team meetings can help to generate new ideas and solutions. Team meetings can also help keep everyone on the same page, and ensure that everyone is aware of the project goals and their role in achieving them.

Leading meetings can be daunting, especially for newbies.

It takes more time, effort, and planning to head a meeting than it does to attend one, butt there's more to leading a meeting than the novice might assume.

Let's take a look at some methods (SOPs) for running a meeting effectively:

1. Set goals before the meeting

Before you schedule a meeting, figure out what you want to get done by the end of it. Ask yourself why the meeting is being held, whether it's for your team's weekly meeting or a sit down with a group to discuss a certain issue. Not only will this assist you in determining if the meeting is required, but you'll also have an easier time expressing those objectives to the meeting's attendees.

There's no need to hold a meeting if nothing can be accomplished. Time is valuable, and wasting time during the working day with an unneeded meeting may have a negative impact on work output.

Also, don't forget to make your meeting objectives SMART, an acronym for the terms Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based.

2. Determine who should attend

Not every meeting needs to include everyone in the office. In fact, including too many people can often lead to distractions and a loss of focus. When determining who should attend your meeting, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this person have any insight that will help me achieve my goals?

  • Do I need this person here to hold the group accountable for the meeting's objectives?

  • Is this person necessary for an open dialogue, or would his/her presence be more of a distraction for everyone else in the room?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, the person in question should attend your meeting.

The meeting's topic and substance should be relevant to all attendees. If someone's presence appears to be unnecessary, let them know why you think they should be there.

3. Build an agenda

Building an agenda prior to a meeting will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect. This document should list the items that will be discussed during the meeting as well as who is responsible for each item. An agenda can also help keep a meeting on track, ensuring that everyone stays focused on the task at hand.

Make a list of all the things you'll talk about during your meeting, including what will be covered, who will present it, and in which order. Consider how you'll accomplish the aims of your meeting with this stage.

If at all possible, give the agenda out ahead of time. This way, attendees may come to the meeting prepared with their relevant questions and comments.

4. Use technology to your advantage

There are many tools out there that can help make your meeting more productive. For example, a video chat platform like Skype or Zoom can be used to hold virtual meetings with people located in different parts of the world. These tools can also be used to share screens and documents with meeting attendees, allowing everyone to have a clear view of the discussion at hand.

5. Present the agenda

The first thing you should do once they've all gotten there is review the goals and agenda you prepared before calling the meeting. Offer everyone an idea of what you'll talk about. If you're remote and utilizing a screen sharing software, now's the time to bring up those slides and get the team involved. Conversations in meetings can sometimes stray off track, so starting with the goals and agenda will assist in preventing this.

6. Use notes

Take notes on any questions or comments that come up, especially those that pertain to the meeting's ultimate objective. These may be crucial to address in the actions you take after the meeting.

Take notes if you're not sure how to record the meeting. If necessary, designate one individual to take notes so you can fully immerse yourself in the discussions going on around you. You might also find it helpful to utilize a document creation program that allows you to modify and afterwards
share notes from the meeting.

7. Give your full attention

When conducting a meeting, it is critical that you give the participants your full attention as the leader. Close your laptop, put away your phone, and save any internal thoughts for later. This is essential while delivering information to the group, as well as when hearing what others have to say in response.

When leading a meeting, be sure to put your phone on silent and close any apps that might distract you. Make an effort to contribute to the discussion, rather than just sit back and watch it happen around you.

Giving your full attention to a meeting is one of the most effective methods to have a productive session.

8. Be positive

Maintaining a positive tone throughout the meeting will help generate positivity and productivity. This is especially important when addressing sensitive topics or difficult conversations. If the meeting starts to feel tense, take a break and allow everyone to regroup.

Every person in the room should feel comfortable contributing to the discussion without fear of judgement or ridicule. Try your best to keep the conversation light and upbeat, even during tough moments.

9. Keep it interesting

It gets quite tedious listening to someone talk for the entire meeting. It is a good idea to change up the speaker every now and then during a meeting. Allow individuals to share updates on the project they are working on and other relevant information. If the meeting involves multiple departments, let each team leader speak on behalf of his or her department. Give each new topic a different voice to keep listeners engaged.

10. Make it reasonable in length

The longer a meeting lasts, the more likely it is that people will begin to lose interest. This is especially true if the goals of the meeting can't be succinctly summed up as a result. Consider how much time everyone has, as well as how much work can realistically be done in that period prior to scheduling a meeting and try to adhere to those guidelines.

It's critical to end meetings on schedule, just as it's critical to keep meetings brief. This guarantees that everyone has a chance of expressing their views, and no one leaves feeling hurried. It also sends the message that you value everyone's time. Meeting length tolerance differs from company to company, so make sure you have a sense of your company's expectations before scheduling.

11. Follow up and use action items

The best approach to conclude a meeting is to provide key learnings and action items. Tell the people who came to the meeting anything they need to do after it, as simply as possible, with a deadline for completion.

Once the meeting is over, it's also important to follow up with everyone who was in attendance. This includes sending out a recap of the meeting's objectives and any action items that were assigned. This will ensure that everyone's on the same page and can easily reference any tasks they've
been assigned.

12. Open up to questions

Feedback is a key component of effective communication. And in order for a team meeting to be useful, there must be good communication. Open the floor for questions once you've clarified the action items. Participants may have queries about the action items or anything else that was addressed during the meeting. Make it clear that there are no stupid questions, and that they can be about anything covered in the meeting rather than just what was addressed previously.

At some points during the meeting, some questions might arise. That's fine, just make sure you make an intentional effort of asking if there is anything else anyone would want to ask at the conclusion of the meeting.

It's difficult to learn how to conduct a meeting. It necessitates planning, preparation, and
attention.  But, above all else, it requires effective communication. This is the only way to ensure that everyone has a voice in your meeting and that decisions are made with everyone’s input.

If you keep in mind that meetings are about people, then it's much easier to see how important effective communication really is.

At first, it might be difficult, but with practice and the strategies listed above, you'll be an expert meeting organizer in no time.

A little effort goes a long way. Remember, we’re all busy and our time is of value. Invest it in something worthwhile by making your meetings count through thoughtful approach and strategy.

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